Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The cheap reality

You’ve probably heard and read more than you care to about our financial adjustments and “struggles” over the past couple years. (The word struggles makes it sound oh-so-dramatic…but I couldn’t think of another proper word, and I’m short on time.)

I’m getting better at being ok with things in their current state.  We’re actually doing better than we have been thanks to M’s new job.  But sometimes it seems like a few steps forward can’t even be celebrated before there are a couple steps back.  And 9 times out of 10 I can deal just fine.  Then there’s that one little day that catches me when I’m weak.  On those days I wish thing were different…

**I wish I could buy the fresh fruit and veggies that would help me do so much better on my healthy-eating plan.

**I wish I could splurge on a better quality cereal instead of whatever is the cheapest for the most—with the requirement ALWAYS that it’s not a “sugar cereal.”

**I wish I could afford a better type of deli meat for M’s lunches, because sometimes the difference is so evident.

**I wish I could swing through a drive thru just once in a while and get a yummy salad, already made for me, full of the veggies I do so love. (And yes, I do love veggies, for real.)

**I wish I didn’t have to put off baking chicken (the healthiest and most efficient way for me to do the big batches I do) because if I heat the house with the oven, we’ll be fighting all day to get the inside temp below 80 degrees, and that means the A/C will run nonstop all day and our electric bill will be so very high.  For chicken.

But then I feel silly.  And selfish.
~I have food.  Many people don’t have food. I want to eat healthy, but maybe I should just eat and keep my mouth shut. 
~I have a home, one that has a mortgage that is paid on time.  It has air conditioning. These are luxuries in and of themselves.
~My husband has a job.  He got a new, better-paying job while he already had a job.  He had a choice to change jobs, he wasn’t laid off.  He loves his new job, and it brings more money home than the one he wasn’t as fond of.  Maybe deli meat really isn’t the focus right now.
~I have a car—two—that are paid for. Free and clear of any debt. They run, they have nice, cold A/C.  Who cares if they are dented and dinged and each have over 215,000 miles on them? I should be more willing to drive my car to my home and eat my food in gratefulness.

I find myself so frustrated lately with those who have SO much and are not grateful or generous.  Or even those who don’t have all that much but they are totally wasteful with what they have and then whine constantly about having no money. I don’t want to be like that.  Sure, I’d love to get a hold of the checkbooks of a few people for a few days and bless the heck out of some other people, but that’s not for me to decide.  I must give where I’m able, with my time and my abilities.  Where I used to be able to write a big check, now I must be sure to look for a deed to be done or a burden to be lifted.

Yes, there are days when I feel like all our hard work—and we HAVE done hard work—isn’t yet paying off.  I miss my nicer, shinier, newer cars, but I don’t miss the payments.  I miss the extra cash in my wallet, but I don’t miss the credit card bill every month.

But we’ll get there.  We’ve come a long way.  We are willing to make the sacrifices.  But some days it’s just not as easy to do with a big ol’ smile on. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Refreshing and rejuvenating

At Beth Moore conference. Rockin' to some amazing Victory in Jesus...not your grandma's hymns. It is pretty cool to hear 10,000 women sing their hearts out.

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Birthday on the town

Not my birthday. Don’t worry. You didn’t miss it.

Yesterday was my BFF Melanie’s birthday. I won’t say how old she is. We’ll just say she’s a few months older than me, and I’m 36. tee hee.

We started the day meeting at the YMCA to test out some guest passes. We’re wanting to join, so we thought we’d go workout and see how it went. It was a great workout, some girlfriend therapy included, of course, and we felt really jazzed for the day. She hung out with her guys for the day and then we met up to go out on the town for dinner and whatever else we felt like.

Theme of the day: How in the heck is it possible that we’re this old??? We don’t feel any older than we did 19 years ago when we met on our first day of college orientation. We might look a little different, though.

Want proof?

Here’s us all ready to head out last night for dinner.

Now get ready for a very scary trip down memory lane… don’t take a drink, though, you’ll spit as you laugh.

Where it all began….St. Louis Christian College. Fall 1991.
mel-rk-dorm Yes, that’s my dorm room. With Andre Agassi on the wall. LOVED that poster. Kinda still do, now that I look at it again. We were the trio, the three amigos, not to be separated. Melanie, Anissa, and me. In this pic, right at the beginning of our freshman year, I was 17 and they were 18. We thought we were something special.

A very frequent scene. Me and Mel at Wal-Mart. It was almost daily. I don’t know why. mel-rk-walmartWait. I DO know why. I had a car. I was 17. That was all that mattered. “Where can we go? We need to go somewhere??” (Note the marks because this was a yearbook pic. Frightening.)

Choir Tour, Christmas 1991. Oh the damage that could be done if I could figure out how to get the VHS video tapes onto DVD. mel-rk-choirAnd yes, I know you’re totally jealous of my beautiful bangs.

St. Pat’s Day 1992. Me and Mel in a photo booth somewhere. I don’t remember this at all. And that’s weird because I remember far too much. But this one surprised me when I was going through the old scrapbook.
mel-rk-photobooth

Spring 1992. Awards Banquet. I was the chairperson.
mel-rk-awards
Check out those smokin’ decorations. Pink and green. Can’t beat it. And yes, we were dressed up. Thought we looked good.

May 1992. We were one of the teams going out for the summer to represent the college and recruit. Churches, church camps, conventions, we did it all. Music, drama, teaching classes, being the coolest of dorm moms.
mel-rk-conquestClearly, I thought I was too cool for this picture. And no that’s not our dad. It’s Tim, and Tim was SO old. He was 28. Totally makes me laugh out loud right this second. (Interesting side note…Tim ended up marrying a girl he met that summer, she was 12, or something like that. He didn’t marry her right then, don’t worry. It was all legal and respectable, years later. Just a little surprising.)

February 1994. We had these pictures taken because I wanted to give mine to my boyfriend for Valentine’s Day.
mel-rk-glamourshots
He didn’t like them. So much for that idea. My grandmother thought they were great, though, and had them all over her house.

March 1994. On the beach in Florida. First time I ever saw the ocean was that week. Maybe that day. We were packing buddies for choir tour, of course. mel-rk-beach
Only snag was that she was just starting to date my aforementioned boyfriend, then my ex of 3 weeks…made for some awkward moments, but we made it through. And she married him.

We had some years of very sparse communication. We lived alot of life, both of us did, in those years…

In 2002, the trio started going on yearly trips together. The OTW Tour, as we called it. Explanation another time. This was March 2002 in Chicago.
AS RW MS 2

We got thrown in the hoosegow in Brown County, IN in March 2003.
Caught

Don’t miss Mel’s face… so typically funny.
mel-rk-jail

And just in fairness to us both…. I’ll close with us now, one more time. Older, wiser, a little more jaded, but lookin’ better than ever! (Mel has lost 80 lbs in the last few years, is the most committed health and fitness nut I know. My physical wellness guru.)


After living in a few different places, we’ve both ended up back here…only a few miles from each other. I am SO thankful for that!

We went to a VERY nice dinner, went to downtown Old St. Charles and walked around a bit and got some great coffee, then hopped across town to a dueling piano bar* for a little while.(*where we did NOT get carded…and it was a little sad even though we weren’t exactly there to “par-tay”)

Wild women, that’s us. (Truth is, we had to consult my younger, cuter, and much more hip and sophisticated little sister to get tips on what to do with this rare opportunity to go out and be sassy.)

Happy Birthday, again, Melanie!!! 37 never looked so good!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shelley’s got more chances to win!

Preschool Prep is a company I just now am learning about, and so far, I’m a fan of everything I’m seeing.  Shelley’s giving away a great set, so go over and enter to win!  (Isn’t her blog especially cute???  wink, wink)

If you’re someone who buys Braska gifts at any time, put this on your list of options for the next birthday or Christmas.  It is all stuff we could really use to work on things we’d like her to be learning currently.  The first one on the list would be Meet the Colors—DVD and Books.  I’m gonna have to see if there’s room in the budget soon for that one… 

If money were no object… this would be my choice, ordering it today if I could! 

Ultimate Preschool Prep & Sight Words Pack

image

Truthfully, I just want all of them. How great would that be!?!  For working with both the girls.. we’d be all set!

Quality

I'm so darn fortunate to have buddies like you commenters/emailers in the last 24 hours. This is why I blog and love the blogging community. (And for the 2 of you who actually have the privilege of knowing me personally and in the flesh...tee hee...you remind me why I must not be TOO bad at making friends. So great, you guys!)

Thanks for your input. I'm not depressed or sulking or anything. Just thinking and pondering and musing and internalizing and mulling. And enjoying my thesaurus apparently.

If you haven't read the comments on the post from yesterday, it's worth your time. I have some really wise friends, and I love that they share honestly with me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Do share

I'm getting all philosophical and a little cynical about blogging lately. I love it, I think about it far too much, but I never get time to post what I really want to talk about. It's a great outlet for me, and it has been a life-saving connection to so many of you who have walked this journey of abbreviations, therapists, and special education challenges ahead of me.

True, I've mentioned before that blog traffic has been way down, on both Braska's blog and this one. I know I need to be more consistent with posting, but it seems that even when I do, there's just not much action. Very little traffic. I stopped paying for the premium tracking since it was down to piddly numbers. I've even debated taking a full internet break for a while. But I fear I'd shrivel up and die.

I get that it's supposed to be for me, my place to say whatever, but what fun is it to say stuff when it just goes into nowhere? And I know I've shot myself in the foot with telling everyone in my life about this blog so that I can't say much about daily life for fear of offending someone involved. There's SO much I want to get opinions or input on but I've mixed blog and IRL too thoroughly. I try to stay positive, and I'm generally a positive person (except for in a couple consistent areas of my life), because I don't like to contribute to the negativity available. But sometimes things are hard and sometimes things don't look pretty around my house. Just truth in action. How do we balance the truth of life without ranting like grouches all the time???

But now that I have some new "followers" (I do SO hate that word for this purpose), I'd like to know what you guys look for in a blog. I'm just debating if I've got what it takes to survive or make it even worth my time to put effort into this.

So if you're in a reader, click on over and check out the poll above the posts. Let me know what you think. Elaborate in comments, too. Tell me what you really think. I'm gonna put on my thick skin and take it like a... well, I mean... I'll try not to do the ugly cry.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

High class in high temps

I’m trying to figure out this chaos of drawing winners for Braska’s giveaway.  What was I thinking with all those options and different points and crazy things??  Ah well, I’m just excited to find out who won!

In the meantime, you want to read a little story that makes you shake your head?!?

Backstory… A common occurrence at churches are people who come knock on the door and ask for help with an electric bill or with their rent.  Often these needs are met and assistance is given.  But I’ve never heard of anything like this.

Read as my mother-in-law tells about her day at work.  
Click here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wannabe

I wannabe known.
I wannabe wanted.
I wannabe heard.
I wannabe liked.

I wannabe a great mom.
I wannabe a cherished wife.
I wannabe a good example.
I wannabe a true reflection of Christ’s love, mercy, and justice.

I wannabe effective in my encouragement.
I wannabe genuine in my generosity.
I wannabe liberal with my loyalty.
I wannabe positive in my purpose.

I wannabe funny.
I wannabe firm.
I wannabe friendly.
I wannabe forthright.

I wannabe helpful.
I wannabe convincing.
I wannabe motivating.

I wannabe desired.
I wannabe devoted.
I wannabe determined.

I wannabe better.
I wannabe improving.
I wannabe growing.

I wannabe hopeful.
I wannabe thoughtful.
I wannabe fanciful.

I wannabe more.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Naptime 06-16-10

Little Miss Drama even poses in her sleep. Priceless.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kinlee: 16 months


This girl is really silly. And cute. And she is now 16 months old.

She’s gaining skills so fast I’ve sadly missed documenting most of them.  I keep starting to put together a comprehensive post, and then I get distracted by aforementioned 16-month-old, and nothing gets completed.  Over and over and over.

So I’m going to try again really quick.  Even if I need to do it in parts…

She is 20 lbs 5 oz, same as she was 3 months ago.  She’s 30.5 inches.

Kinlee is still Little Miss Drama.  She is also pretty fearless when it comes to climbing and playing rough. This combination leads to many a very pathetic meltdown when she gets hurt in the midst of exploring.  And I use the word “hurt” very liberally.  She often just thinks that she might have been close to getting hurt…and that’s all it takes.  She is very emotional, cries frequently, whines even more frequently.  And it can get old quickly. No doubt.

But on the positive side, when she is on, she’s really ON.  She is crazy funny, loves to be silly, has a strangely mature sense of humor for a little girl her age.  She often has her sister cracking up by just goofing around. Physical comedy is a strength of hers. 

Until she thinks she stubbed a toe, of course.

This girl is smart.  Not just like “My kid is SO smart!” like we all tend to say.  She is talented in the brain.  I don’t know how she knows the things she does.  I don’t know where she learns some of these skills and words and techniques, but she’s good.  And wow—a very quick learner.  Tell her once, and she’s got it. 

That is, if she WANTS to get it, mind you.

She’s gone from walking to pretty much running in no time.  She can manage going up steps like I’d never expect her to do.  Her legs are pretty strong hidden in little petite packages.  She figured out how to move a stool or chair around in the kitchen so that she can get up in her booster chair.  And she can get into Braska’s high chair, too, for that matter.  And we still don’t know how.  She won’t show that trick to anyone.  She just shows up in the chair at random times.  Little time traveler….


And communication…what is it with my girls and talking like mini-adults?  Kinlee is already using some 2-word phrases like “Dad home” when it’s getting close to 5:30p.  How does she know that??  (She never says Daddy or Mommy…always Dad and Mom…like she’s too big a kid for those baby names.)  Or “Hi Dad!” when she’s pretend talking on my phone.  Most of her speech is still in one-word identification and requests… but there are A LOT of them.  A quick list of the most common utterances…

Drink, eat, milk, bear, up, down, please, thank you, more, wash, kiss, phone, bird, monkey, door, picture, doggie, blanket, Binky, Braska, sissy, bed, pillow, hand, ear, nose, mouth, Dad, Mom, outside, swing, slide, go play, hi, hello, bye, show (TV), “baby time” for Baby Signing Time, Rach for Auntie Rachel, pop for popcorn, chip, juice, help, nap, yes, no, push, “H” for all letters, “1” for all numbers, car, cat, grass, come, glasses, blocks, stand, sit, Shay, water, swim, splash… and I’m running out of time.  There’s a bunch more.

So I’ll add more to the update later. At least I got something started! Baby steps, once again!

Little Miss Giveaway

Braska’s got some fun things that she’s decided to share with her friends.  Make sure you see what she’s got goin’ on… generous little Beauty.

Braska’s Fashion Statement

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tiny wordsmith rant

Today I read at least 3 articles/blog posts that used the phrase “could have cared less” referring to someone not being at all concerned with something. 

Example:
I could have cared less if they were serving spaghetti today. I wanted fettuccine.

If taken literally, this would mean that the speaker DID care somewhat that they were serving spaghetti.  But her point was that she didn’t care at all.

If you are saying that you absolutely don’t care at all about something…then you would say you could NOT have cared less.  There is no lesser amount of caring that could be achieved.  You really don’t care. Not a care in the world.

If you COULD have cared less…then you would have.  At least if the point is to show a complete indifference, which is generally how it is used.

I know. It’s petty.  I’m not slamming you, my friends.  But it’s one of those things that just keeps going because no one points it out. 

Lesson over. Class dismissed. For now.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Making baby steps of progress

I'm at St L Childrens Hospital today. Braska has a couple appointments with ENT and audiology and we did labs for GI. The girls are cooperating well so far, especially since KiKi should be napping now. I generally don't let them play with toys in pediatric offices...or in pretty much any public place, but today--amidst regular sanitizing--I did let them play. It wouldn't be such a problem if Braska was not so constant with her hands in her mouth. But oh well.

Updats on the visits soon.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tomorrow, finally!

It’s now 2 minutes before midnight. In barely over 5 hours I’ll be getting up to drag a TON of stuff out of my garage for the biggest yard sale I’ve ever seen in person. It’s all to support Dashlyn’s adoption from Eastern Europe. Julie and I, with help from various friends and family, have worked all week, very diligently, to prepare the amazing amount of donations that we received. All proceeds go to the adoption fund. It’s beyond comprehension how the idea of doing a yard sale to get some money to help with the adoption turned into a HUGE event. It has really been overwhelming at times. We have 10 families who have donated alot of REALLY nice things, not just your typical yard sale stuff. We have a never-worn wedding dress, for Heaven’s sake!!

But now we’re ready to go. We’ve got a couple hours worth of work to do in the morning to get it all out and set it up. No doubt it will fill my front yard, my driveway, and my 2-car garage. I’m excited to see how people respond to the idea of a fundraising yard sale for this purpose. The few people who stopped today while we were working and browsed the piles (and purchased a decent amount of stuff!) were all very supportive and encouraging.

Tonight I made t-shirts for us to wear that have Dashlyn’s name and picture on them with the quote from her blog’s header. It will be quite a day.

If you’re in or near St. Charles County, MO, please come see us!! If you want details or directions, drop me an email at braskasmom-at-gmail dot com.

Lord, I’m asking for the rain to hold off. Give us time to make some money to bring this girl home SOON! Thank you!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

While I’m busy, check these out!

I’m shoulder deep in a garage FULL of donated items for Julie’s sale for Dashlyn’s adoption. It is going to be MASSIVE! So we’re very busy sorting and pricing and it’s overwhelming… but Saturday is the big day, so we’re getting close.

While I’m not able to blog anything particularly interesting myself, please check these out… quality stuff!

~~Jessie has a REALLY hysterical story (with pictures) that she posted today. Anyone got a husband whose smarts mysteriously seem to run out when they attempt dressing a little girl?? Totally worth a read (and laugh!).

~~Shelley has a new blog and had some interesting ideas for snacks for your kiddos yesterday (pretty snazzy blog design, too, right??)

~~And the always-witty-and-honest Tricia has another great post today about Georgia’s school future…including one phenomenal picture of Miss G, and an adorable shot of Rainer too!

And do me a favor…will you report back what you think of these friends of mine? I like to know if what I think is good is thought of as good to others… yes, I need affirmation for my friends. Just keepin’ it real.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Must have wings somewhere

This child was in the playroom. I went outside for a few minutes to take a cold drink to the neighbor who was mowing my lawn. When I returned, this was what I found. There was no stool or chair. She managed to get up and in. And it is not even her chair! She is going to keep me on my toes. No doubt.

Neighborly surprise

Yes, sir. That's right. That would be our neighbor mowing our lawn. And he asked if he could trim too. He saw that our mower was broken over the weekend. And the grass is quite high. Amazing. First time I have ever talked to him other than a particularly stressful day several weeks ago.